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Alyssa's Gift of Care Story

From Spinal Cord Injury to WCMX Champion: Alyssa's Journey at Shriners Hospitals for Children

(English Subtitles) Alyssa’s talent at the skate park isn’t the only thing setting her apart from other skateboarders her age. She’s different in one very specific way. She rides a wheelchair. Over the years, Alyssa has been cared for by a multidisciplinary team of Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California medical staff members including orthopaedists, orthopaedic spine surgeons, physical therapists, urologists and bowel management specialists. She has been fitted for various assistive mobility devices as she has grown. “Shriners [Hospitals] has been there for us through the years in every possible way, whether it’s help getting a new wheelchair faster or help talking to our insurances company about Alyssa’s needs, or even just getting a doctor’s note for school,” said her mother Anna. “Shriners is always there.”
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Alyssa Montenegro:
My name is Alyssa Montenegro. I'm 16 years old. I've been a patient at Shriners for quite a long time actually. I'm not sure how many years to be honest, but it's been quite a while that I've been coming here, but I love coming to Shriners. It's one of my favorite hospitals to come to. Actually not one of my favorites, it is my favorite. When I was younger I was diagnosed with leukemia and so I was being treated at this one hospital, but I was not receiving the greatest treatment. The doctors there said that I was going to be bound, like stuck to a wheelchair. And I wouldn't be able to do anything for myself almost in a way, kind of like a vegetable. My parents, they didn't want to give up or anything and so they were searching and searching and they found Shriners hospital and they're like, "Hey, let's give this place a shot. Let's see what they have in store for us."

Alyssa Montenegro:
And so we came up here and they had me with crutches and walkers and braces and they got me... They were able to help get me a wheelchair. So that way I can even go on my own instead of having to use this big, bulky hospital wheelchair. And they just been making sure that I've always had all the equipment that I always needed to get through life. My main doctor, Dr. Loren Davidson, he comes in and he'll make sure that my bowel and bladder programs are going well and my spine isn't curving too bad or anything. And he's making sure that I have all the equipment I need. And he's just always there and making sure that I'm doing better than I was before, that things are always improving.

Alyssa Montenegro:
They started me off with a walker and eventually they moved me up to crutches and I was able to just walk around with the crutches. I was able to go up and down steps with crutches. I was improving so much, like way beyond what I ever thought I'd be able to do. And it was just, honestly, it opened my eyes to see what else I could possibly do. Not only just with walking, but also what I could do in my own chair too.

Alyssa Montenegro:
They've opened up this whole world to me. Now I can go to a skate park and I can skate in my chair and compete in competitions and I never thought I'd be able to do that. It's like another family to me, that they're just always there supporting me. If anything, life is just, it's skating, but in your chair instead of on a skateboard. Your donation is not just helping the hospital, but it's also helping the patients receive better treatment and also get a better life. The gift of care is WCMX for me.